Wednesday, January 11, 2023

A Note on Health Care from City Council Member Tiffany Caban


I submitted my recent Daily News column to the city council as testimony, and received this response from council member Tiffany Caban. I don't know about you, but I love it.

First off, let me thank my colleague, Council Member De La Rosa, for chairing Monday’s marathon hearing, which gave us all an opportunity to hear from a great many concerned parties regarding the proposed changes to the administrative code.
I want to start by zooming out and acknowledging that this shouldn’t even be an issue in the first place, because we should have comprehensive universal public health coverage, if not at the federal level with Medicare for All, then at the state level with the New York Health Act. If either of those was in place, this would be a moot point, and there would be no need to pit retirees against current workers this way.
The bottom line is this. The reason the Municipal Labor Committee cannot maintain its Stabilization Fund commitments under the status quo of skyrocketing healthcare costs driven by our for-profit healthcare system. Since this change to the administrative code does not address these rising costs, it is not a real solution. It merely kicks the can down the road, while opening municipal employees and retirees up to further fee hikes and reductions in coverage. Or as my friend Dr. James Davis, president of PSC/CUNY put it, this doesn’t rip the Band Aid off, it simply “applies a different Band Aid, while inflicting new wounds.”
While we cannot afford inaction, we also cannot afford this action. I hear from scores and scores of retirees every day, who simply cannot bear the cost this change would force on them. Many wouldn’t be able to afford the premiums to maintain their current coverage, or would have to resort to a no-premium plan that might not cover treatments that their lives depend on. I cannot and will not support that.
We need an alternative. The City must make immediate allocations to shore up the Stabilization Fund in the short term. This will buy us time to establish a stakeholders’ commission to identify a pathway to controlling healthcare costs, thereby getting at the root cause of the current emergency. Such a course of action will enable us to keep retiree access to traditional Medicare and Senior Care uninterrupted and premium-free.
Thank you for your continued advocacy on this issue. We look forward to continuing to support your fight.
Very warmly,
The Office of City Council Member Tiffany Cabán

District 22, Queens

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